The history of wine and the history of the French are inexorable. As DiscoverFrance.net writes, viticulture began in the proto-French region of Gaul in the late first century. The Roman Empire, enjoying the pinnacle of its power, began exporting uprooted parts of its Italian vineyards to northern France, Germany, and parts of southern England. However, it was those wineries which were built in the north of France, regions referred to as Burgundy, that would become and remain the most important, both for the wine culture of France and the world.
The French would create many of the most famous wines that we all drink across the world to this day. French wines from Chablis in Burgundy, known colloquially as Bourgognes, led to some of the world’s favorite Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties. Champagne France is the birthplace champagne, a sparkling wine used around the world for celebrations.
While we have adopted many of the greatest French wines, using them in our own meals, celebrations, and ruminations, not all of us have been able to grasp the concept of matching wines with temperatures and other foods to truly bring them to life. If you’re one of the many who don’t know whether champagne should be served chilled or at room temperature or whether a burgundy goes well with a piece of fish, then this short guide to French wines is for you.
Long reserved for celebrations, champagne is a much more versatile wine than many give it credit for. Part of the problem is that many people assume that champagnes only come in white, but, in fact, many popular varieties also come in a blush. If you prefer the more classic champagne, made from pure Chardonnay grapes, Epicurious suggests matching it with a Meyer lemon shortcake. Drier champagnes, those using a mixture of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, are better suited to richer desserts, like goat cheese ice cream served with roasted cherries. All true champagnes should be served at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red Burgundy Wines
Zester Daily, a food and culture web-magazine, writes that red Burgundy wines, like Bourgogne Passe-tout-Grains, should be served with fatty fish, rich sauces, charcuterie, and flavorful, but not overpowering, cheeses. Regarding the temperature, Burgundy can be served at room temperature, but some aficionados call for this full-bodied red to be chilled to 61 degrees.
Chardonnay is one of the most well-loved varieties of wines to come from the Chablis region of France. Chardonnays can range in flavor from woody, oak-filled bouquets to lighter, crisper varieties. Regardless of which type you prefer, however, Food and Wine Magazine recommends pairing it with strong cheeses and a beautiful baguette. Stiltons will work best with the lighter variety, but the more oak in your Chardonnay, the better it can handle punchier cheeses, like sharp American cheddars and full cow’s-milk blues. Chardonnay serving temperature varies from 47 to 50 degrees, depending on the quality of the wine.
French wines are the result of centuries spent perfecting an art. With this short guide, you can make sure you serve French wines at the temperatures and with the food they were crafted for. Bon appetit!